Magic in the UnUnited Kingdoms, has been slowly on the wane for the last few decades, and the soothsayers and sorcerers now hire themselves out, re-wiring houses and unblocking drains, and in the case of flying carpets, pizza delivery! It won’t be long before magic disappears altogether.
With the death of the last of the dragons at the hands of a dragonslayer is predicted by one of Kazam’s team. So the King himself and the nation’s magical folk (and just about everyone else) all head to Hereford, Kazam and therefore Jennifer looking for answers and a cut of the potential profits.
Jasper Fforde does young adult? How could I resit?!
Young Jennifer Strange, is another fab Fforde heroine, caring, strong, snarky and opinionated, despite her current lot in life, she forges her own path though it.
Set in alternate England the world as you would expect, is packed with Ffordes trademark elements: a sinister conglomerate, and more jokes and puns than you can shake a
stick sword at. In fact I’d really recommend this to anyone who’s been wanting to try Fforde, but have been intimidated by his previous novels, because it has everything he’s known and liked for, but doesn’t have the labyrinthine plot that can be off-putting, when paired with his quirkyness.
I loved this one, Jennifer is a fantastic narrator, and the plot is both fun and, well, adventurous, and her fellow friends and characters are, rich varied and brilliantly named! The short wizard Half-Price is one, but her fellow orphan Tiger Prawns is probably the best. You can’t help but grin whenever he’s on the page. (He soon takes on the younger brother role, teasing but loyal, and helpful as well.)
There’s always a risk when an ‘adult’ writer decides to try his or her hand at the young-adult market, often seeing it as an easy-buck, and the chance to write something without as much effort. It’s definitely not the case here. Sure, Fforde takes a lot of easily YA recognisable rules, but he takes those rules and bends them to his world, not the other way around, and it’s all the better for it.